I was inspired to look into this after interviewing my friend Tamara on last week’s show about her late beau John who left behind more than $5000 in unclaimed money thanks to his successful music career. So for the next few weeks I’ll cover unclaimed royalties for musicians, actors and other performers.
Let’s start with BMI, which stands for Broadcast Music Inc. It is one of the groups that represent composers and songwriters. Some are famous like Patti Labelle and Michael Jackson. Others are almost unheard of like my old boyfriend the penniless musician. Regardless, if one of those people writes a song and registers it with BMI and then somebody else records it or performs it publicly for money, the performer is supposed to pay the composer a royalty for the use of the music. BMI tracks public performances for more than 13 million works, and collects and distributes licensing revenues for those performances as royalties to more than 800,000 songwriters, composers, and music publishers it represents.
In 2017, according to Variety, BMI collected more than $1.13 billion in licensing fees and distributed just $1.023 billion in royalties, so you can see that there’s a big gap there and that gap represents unclaimed money! SO, Are you a composer? Or did somebody in your family write music as far back as the 1930s when BMI was formed?
Fortuately, BMI provides a web page regarding uncashed royalty checks. The group says first it attempts to send its members a letter when a royalty check has sat for a long time uncashed. Then, if that yields nothing, BMI just maintains the money and the records until it hears from the rightful owner or heir.
You can email BMI or write a snail mail letter to inquire about uncashed royalty checks. And I will link you to the contact info you need to do this from EasyMoneyShow.com/67.
Find your uncashed BMI royalty checks: www.bmi.com/creators/detail/uncashed_royalty_checks